How to Save Money on Hotels
Start your hotel search as early as you can. The longer stretch of time you have to search the better deal you’ll likely find.
Booking early isn’t only about great deals. Early bookers get the best rooms.
If your dates can be flexible then compare different date ranges for the best rates. Hotels can fill up for a big convention or big event. Busy and expensive one weekend. Empty and cheap the next.
Flip-flop weekends and weekdays. Hotels target different types of travelers which will have very different weekday and weekend routines. Hotels that have a large business clientele can be very quiet (with large discounts) on weekends. Hotels that see more leisure tourists will be packed on weekends but cheaper on weekdays.
Think upgrade: book the least expensive room through a booking website then contact the hotel directly to inform them of special requirements or enquire about any available upgrades – if the hotel is quiet they’ll often be free or for a nominal charge.
When is the Best Time to Book Hotels?
Here’s a huge generalization that works pretty well for most situations: For hotels that have a business clientele the last week to 10 days will get you the best deals. For hotels and resorts that have tourists as their primary guests then booking 2 months to 6 months prior to your stay is likely the best.
Why? Business travelers are much more likely to arrange and make last-minute (or last week) travel plans. A month before a given date, a hotel in the financial district of London might not have many bookings but will not start discounting those rooms yet. It will still expect to make a lot of bookings in the week or two before that time frame.
Often it’s not just about the price. Early booking will get you the best rooms at a similar price to the less coveted rooms. E.g. A huge family room that is only a little more than a cramped double room.
A hotel in Cancun, Phuket, or Bali that has a lot of openings in a month will start to worry. Most of its guests should have already booked those rooms so the hotel will start to aggressively discount those rooms.
What Day of the Week Has the Best Hotel Deals?
It depends what type of hotel you’re booking.
Business hotels will offer bigger discounts on the weekends (when business clients are at home). Budget hotels will have empty rooms (and discounts) through the week because the people that stay there (weekend shoppers, concert goers, university students) come on there weekends and return home Sunday night.
What’s Included and Are There Extra Fees?
When you’re comparing different rates from different websites be sure to check what’s included in the quoted price. Are there extra fees and taxes?
Extra costs could include an of the following:
If you’re staying at a big resort it might be wise to check the hotel’s official website to look for extra fees that may be applied (e.g. a charge for using the spa).
Most websites have search options for the following specifics:
Be sure to use these if you’re looking for a hotel with special features or characteristics as in my experience they’re accurate.
A final tip, is to check whether breakfast is included. When you arrive at the hotel you can even ask (with a tone of voice that expects that it is included). It’s often of little cost to the hotel to serve another buffet breakfast but this can be a huge savings for you especially over the course of a week or extended stay.
10 Tips for Booking Hotels Online
This is the cheat sheet for booking hotels online.